June 1, 2023

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Stephen Miller and Other Trump Staffers Still Get Government Checks

  • New documents show who’s still working in Trump’s post-presidential office.
  • The government funds salaries for Trump’s staffers.
  • His office tried to keep extra laptops for volunteers but was denied.

The former Trump White House aide Stephen Miller has been busy trashing the Afghanistan withdrawal on Twitter, fighting the current administration on abortion, and slamming President Joe Biden’s immigration policies to the Fox News host Tucker Carlson. 

“It is not hyperbole but fact to say that at this moment in time we do not have a republic,” Miller told Carlson, citing an influx of “uninvited” immigrants in the US who have “no right to be here.”

Republic or no republic, Miller has also quietly retained his status as a federal government employee and continues to earn a taxpayer-funded paycheck, according to documents obtained by Insider through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Miller — the chief architect of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and one of the most polarizing figures of the last administration — is one of 14 staffers hired to work in the Office of the Former President, the documents indicated.

Miller lists himself as a “senior advisor to President Trump” on Twitter. Taxpayers were set to pay him $10,000 a year to work for Trump’s post-presidential office, according to a June 29 email.

Former presidents typically recede from public prominence for a while and use their taxpayer staff and resources to keep up with correspondence and cement their legacies by constructing libraries. Former President Barack Obama, for instance, broke ground on his presidential library in Chicago this week.

Like all former US presidents from recent decades, Trump has a government-funded annual budget to pay staffers who assist with his post-presidential affairs. 

But Trump — who’s hinting at another presidential run in 2024 — hasn’t publicly signaled any plans for a physical library or museum, and people close to him told Insider Trump saw library planning as a sign of him stepping out of politics.

Instead, Trump has been holding political rallies, attacking the Biden administration, and raising tens of millions of dollars for his political action committees.

The roster of Trump post-presidential office staffers, compiled in June, showed which aides were set to keep working for Trump’s official Office of the Former President and who could be central to a 2024 presidential bid, if the ex-president tried to mount a White House comeback. 

In addition to Miller, White House staffers on Trump’s roster include: his ex-social-media director Dan Scavino; Molly Michael, his former Oval Office operations coordinator; and Beau Harrison, who was an operations assistant when Trump resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

First lady Melania Trump’s former operations director Hayley D’Antuono, the ex-White House correspondence director Desiree Thompson, and the former White House chief of staff’s office director Eliza Thurston are also on the staff list.

The current roles of these Trump staffers aren’t clear. They’re all listed as “staff” on the documents released by the General Services Administration. 

Trump’s former White House “body man” Nick Luna was on the staff list in June but has since been “offboarded,” which means he’s no longer drawing a government paycheck.

Christina Wilkes, a GSA spokesperson, declined to comment on the current roster of Trump staffers.

Six other people were listed as staff in Trump’s office, but the GSA redacted those names on the documents released to Insider, citing privacy concerns. 

A representative for Trump did not respond to a request for comment for this story. 

Obama, Bush, Clinton

All former US presidents are entitled to federal funding for staff, office space, and travel.

USA Today Sports/Reuters

Perks for ex-presidents

Staffers working in the Office of the Former President are funded under a law called the Former Presidents Act. That act allows Trump to use up to $150,000 a year in federal funds to pay staff for 2 1/2 years. After that, he can use $96,000 a year to pay staff.

It’s common for ex-presidents to keep a few of their former White House confidants on their post-White House teams. 

The Obamas kept some of their former White House aides on staff after Obama left office in 2017. They included former White House principal deputy press secretary Eric Schultz; Kevin Lewis, a former Justice Department and Obama White House communications aide; and Michelle Obama’s White House communications director Caroline Adler Morales. 

Trump and other ex-presidents also, by law, get federal cash for office equipment, travel, and security.

But Trump isn’t getting everything he wants.

In July, days before Trump’s post-White House transition period was scheduled to end, his staff asked the GSA if they could continue to use four government-funded laptops for volunteers. 

The GSA denied the request.

“The Federal Government does not provide laptops for non-federal employees. Therefore, laptops under the Former President will be provided for those who are on-boarded as employees,” Kathleen Geisler, the GSA director of outgoing transition, wrote to Trump’s staff. 

All eight Trump aides who were named in the latest GSA documents also worked on Trump’s post-presidential transition team, where they also received government salaries.

The transition period ended on July 21 — six months after Trump left office. Each of the 14 staff who stayed on Trump’s payroll was set to make $10,000 annually for their work in the Office of the Former President, with the exception of Thompson, whose salary was listed as $20,000. 

Those annual salaries are less than all of them made during the post-presidential transition period. Miller’s annualized salary was $160,000 during the six-month transition, according to a batch of documents previously released by the GSA. All the seven other named aides made at least $135,000 in annualized salaries on the post-presidential transition. 

The Trump gig isn’t Miller’s only job. He’s also a cofounder of America First Legal, an organization devoted to challenging the Biden administration’s policies in court. He launched the group with other Trump alumni, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Trump is still collecting government checks, too, even though he said multiple times that he donated his White House salary when he was in office.

He received $99,323 in pension payments between January 20 and July, the GSA told Insider. The law entitles former presidents to pensions that are equal to the salary of Cabinet secretaries, which is $221,400 in 2021.